Politics Preoccupies President Lincoln

October 13, 1864  

President Lincoln visits the Telegraph Office at the nearby War Department for news of recent state elections. Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary: “The President is greatly importuned and pressed by cunning intrigues just at this time. Thurlow Weed and [Henry J.] Raymond are abusing his confidence and good nature badly. [John] Hay says they are annoying the President sadly. This he tells Mr. Fox, who informs me. They want, Hay says, to control the Navy yard but dislike to come to me, for I give them no favorable response. They claim that every mechanic or laborer who does not support the Administration should be turned out of employment. Hay’s representations alarmed Fox, who made it a point to call on the President. F. reports that the President was feeling very well over the election returns, and, on the subject of the Navy Yard votes, expressed his intention of not further interfering but will turn the whole matter over to me whenever the politicians call upon him. I have no doubt he thinks so, but when Weed and Raymond, backed by Seward, insist that action must be taken, he will hardly know how to act. His convictions and good sense will place him with me, but they will alarm him with forebodings of disaster if he is not vindictive. Among other things an appeal has been made to him in behalf of Scofield, a convicted fraudulent contractor, who is now in prison to serve out his sentence.”

President Lincoln writes Indiana Governor Oliver Morton: “ In my letter borne by Mr. Mitchell to Gen. Sherman, I said that any soldiers he could spare for October need not to remain for November. I therefore can not press the General on this point. All that the Sec. of War and Gen. Sherman feel they can safely do, I however, shall be glad of.”

Former Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning writes in his diary: “Chief Justice [Roger B.] Taney died last night. This morning I called on Secy Fessenden on business for Mr Wm Butler of Illinois, and others, and after despatching my business I asked Mr Fessenden if his friends, without his participation, would procure him to be appointed Chief Justice, he would accept the place. He replied that if would be vain to make an effort in his behalf, and that he could not consent that any steps should be taken by his friends looking to such a result, for he knew that the place was designed for Mr Chase, and that the appointment would be tendered to him, and accepted by him — that when Mr Chase resigned as Secretary of the Treasury, and Tod, of Ohio, was nominated to the vacancy he, Fessenden, as Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Senate called on the President to induce him to withdraw Tod’s nomination and reinstate Mr Chase — that the President refused to do so, and showed a determination not to take him back into the cabinet, but remarked that he had great respect for Mr Chase, and that would appoint him to that place – that previously when it was thought the Chief Justice was near his end, he had made up his mind, in the event of his death to appoint Mr Chase, and that he had not changed his mind, and would appoint him now if the place was vacant. Mr Fessenden added that he had communicated this conversation to Mr Chase as his friend — that he was satisfied Mr Chase would accept, and that he could not now, honorably, consent that any movement should be made in his behalf.”

Presidential aide John Hay writes John G. Nicolay of Taney’s death: “I have not heard anything this morning about the succession. It is a matter of the greatest personal importance that Mr Lincoln has ever decided.” Hay writes in his diary: “Last night Chief Justice [Roger B.] Taney went home to his fathers. The elections carried him off, said Banks this morning.

“Already (before his poor old clay is cold) they are beginning to canvass vigorously for his successor. Chase men say the place is promised to their magnifico, as crazy old [Adam] Gurowski styles him.

“I talked with the President one moment. He says he does not think he will make the appointment immediately. He will be, he says, rather ‘shut pan’ in the matter at present.”

Attorney General Edward Bates writes in his diary: “Chief Justice Taney died last night, in ripe old age – 88. The event has been long expected and takes no one by surprise. I called at his house last evening, and was told the he was not better, and I was prepared, at any moment to hear of his death.” Bates adds: “He was a man of great and varied talents: a model of a presiding officer; and the last specimen within my knowledge, of a grave and polished old fashioned gentleman.”

Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles writes in his diary: “The President is greatly importuned and pressed by cunning intrigues just at this time. Thurlow Weed and Raymond are abusing his confidence and good nature badly. Hay says they are annoying the President sadly. This he tells Mr. Fox, who informs me. They want, Hay says, to control the Navy Yard but dislike to come to me, for I give them no favorable response. They claim that every mechanic or laborer who does not support the Administration should be turned out of employment. Hay’s representations alarmed Fox, who made it a point to call on the President. F. reports that the President was feeling very well over the election returns, and, on the subject of the Navy Yard votes, expressed his intention of not further interfering but will turn the whole matter over to me whenever the politicians call upon him. I have no doubt he thinks so, but when Weed and Raymond, backed by Seward, insist that action must be taken, he will hardly know how to act. His convictions and good sense will place him with me, but they will alarm him with forebodings of disaster if he is not vindictive. Among other things an appeal has been made to him in behalf of Scofield, a convicted fraudulent contractor, who is now in prison to serve out his sentence. Without consulting me, the President has referred the subject to Judge-Advocate General Holt, to review and report to him. Holt knows nothing of the case, and, with his other duties, cannot examine this matter thoroughly. Why should the President require him, an officer of another Department, wholly unacquainted with the subject, to report upon it? There are probably two thousand pages of manuscript. The New York party jobbers are in this thing. They will . . . try to procure [Scofield’s] release and pardon for a consideration.”

Maryland adopts new constitution that abolishes slavery.

Advertisements
Published in: on October 13, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://abrahamlincolnandthecivilwar.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/politics-preoccupies-president-lincoln/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: